February 2023
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A civilisation is not an upwards trajectory, it’s a lifecycle

Monday/Tuesday blog

In vino veritas?

I don’t often have deep thoughts about the human condition. But this weekend, while sampling a new case of wine I had just received, I gained an astonishing (for me) new insight into what’s happening in our world.

Ever onwards and upwards?

There have been many civilisations in the past:

And they have all risen, flourished, collapsed and then disappeared leaving only minimal traces of their existence:

Apparently, the average duration of previous civilisations has been around 336 years.

There are obviously different reasons for these different civilisations collapsing – wars, changes in climate, incompetent rulers, greed and indolence. But I suspect that pretty much every one of these civilisations made the same fundamental mistake – they viewed their particular civilisation as being on an upwards trajectory in which wealth and power and economic well-being would continue to increase:

They were unable to conceive of their civilisation disintegrating into catastrophe and ruin even though this had happened to all previous civilisations. Perhaps this is bit like any 20- or 30-year-old nowadays being unable to conceive of themselves ageing – becoming decrepit, dementia-afflicted, doubly-incontinent and dying – even though they see this happening to their elderly relatives?

Civilisations as a life cycle

We now know that civilisations don’t follow an upwards trajectory. Instead, like human beings, they follow a lifecycle – birth, growth, maturity, decay and death. There are plenty of models describing the lifecycle of a civilisation. Here’s just one:

Of all the things our education system could teach but doesn’t, the rise and fall of civilisations is possibly the most important.

Can we save Western civilisation?

We are in a unique situation compared to previous civilisations. We are probably the first civilisation to understand the lifecycle of previous civilisations and what caused those civilisations to implode. This perspective gives us the opportunity to identify the symptoms and causes of civilisational collapse and potentially avoid these.

Sir John Glubb warned us

I’m now going to repeat the description of civilisational collapse I used in a blog in February. Our challenge is to ditch the claims of our useless politicians that under their ‘wise’ stewardship Western civilisation is on an upwards trajectory. Instead we need to admit that our incompetent rulers are wrecking everything good about Western civilisation and impoverishing us all. So we need to recognise that our civilisation is following the description Sir John Glubb gives of civilisational collapse and to change course before it is too late.

Here’s what I wrote in February:

In his analysis of past civilisations, Sir John Glubb described the final phase of each civilisation as follows:

“Frivolity, aestheticism, hedonism, cynicism, pessimism, narcissism, consumerism, materialism, nihilism, fatalism, fanatics and other negative behaviours and attitudes suffuse the population. Politics is increasingly corrupt, life increasingly unjust. A cabal of insiders accrues wealth and power at the expense of the citizens, fostering a fatal opposition of interests between haves and have-nots. The majority lives for bread and circuses (panem et circusem); they worship celebrities instead of divinities…. throw off social and moral restraints — especially sexuality; shirk duties but insist on entitlements.”

Although this was written almost fifty years ago, I think you’ll agree that every single word of the above accurately describes the West today:

Point 1: “Frivolity, aestheticism, hedonism, cynicism, pessimism, narcissism, consumerism, materialism, nihilism, fatalism, fanatics and other negative behaviours and attitudes suffuse the population

Absolutely correct. Of the above list, I’d like to highlight ‘narcissism’ as I suggest that the whole woke nonsense of climate-catastrophism and multiple genders and micro-aggressions and much else, which is tearing our countries apart, is just a form of fanatical, virtue-signalling, nihilistic narcissism.

Point 2: Politics is increasingly corrupt, life increasingly unjust.

Absolutely correct – just look at the bunch of lying, incompetent, scheming, self-enriching cowards running the UK. Or the senile basket-case of a US president. Or the rotten corrupt, self-serving EU. Or the totally corrupt international organisations like the United Nations or the World Health Organisation.

Point 3: A cabal of insiders accrues wealth and power at the expense of the citizens, fostering a fatal opposition of interests between haves and have-nots.

During Covid, the world’s billionaires have become massively richer while the rest of us have been burdened with huge rises in national debts the repayment of which we and our children and their children will be taxed for generations to come. Moreover, the elites are forcing their ludicrous ‘net zero’ greeny agenda on the rest of us, impoverishing our lives while they enjoy the privilege of jetting around the world to lecture on us on why we should be happy giving up many of those very things which make life worth living

Point 4: The majority lives for bread and circuses (panem et circusem); they worship celebrities instead of divinities

You only need to look at the endless stream of z-list supposed celebs on cooking or dancing or reality TV shows and see how many millions follow the inane twitterings of their social media heroes.

Point 5: The majority shirk duties but insist on entitlements.

With one in five Brits claiming they are disabled, with hundreds of thousands of Third-Worlders flooding into European countries with the most generous welfare systems and over two million crossing into the US since cognitively-challenged Joe Biden was wheeled into the White House unaware of where he was, why he was there and what day of the week it was, I hardly need to comment on this. Though I’ll mention Milton Friedman who famously once said something like, “you cannot simultaneously have open borders and a welfare state” (1999). This is something our rulers don’t seem to understand.

7 comments to A civilisation is not an upwards trajectory, it’s a lifecycle

  • Carolyn Hill

    Sadly I’d already come to the conclusion that civilisation as we know it is on its last legs. And I don’t think there’s a damn thing we can do about it. Just look on in horror and disbelief.

    Reading an article on the folly of net zero today, I remembered the nun’s Prather
    – never was it more apt:

    God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can; and the WISDOM to know the difference.

    if only wisdom wasn’t in such short supply amongst our supposed leaders and climate crisis fanatics.

  • Brenda Blessed

    There is a wholly new option to inevitable civilisational decline opening extremely rapidly now – control of the human genome.

    Until now men of superhuman ability, genius, drive, etc., such as Alexander the Great, Caesar, Napoleon, Newton, Einstein, have been accidental occurrences. But with genetic engineering, they will become the norm.

    The current corrupt sub-human degenerates running the world can see that and the fact that the world’s huge and exploding population is not only no longer required, it is a burden. Sub-Saharan Africa alone will have a population of 4 billion by the turn of this century.

    Therefore, instead of waiting for the new genetically-engineered superhumans to appear and solve the problems creatively, they have embarked on a course of depopulation. All of the crises we are suffering from now – the so-called pandemic, the genetic-based “vaccinations”, climate crisis, migration, feminisation and the resulting impoverishment have been deliberately created with that aim in mind. They are aiming to run things down as far as possible so that complete control of the human population is in their hands.

    Instead of creating enormous amounts of death, destruction and suffering, real genius would obviously find creative ways of bringing about the necessary change.

    You just have to look at the very low calibre of the western politicians to see for yourself that they are a bunch of degenerate narcissists who see themselves as superhumans.

    The question now, in my opinion, is will fate provide the answers to them in time?

  • A Thorpe

    This is a very interesting and relevant piece. A lot of people are thinking about what is really going on. Philosophers have been thinking about these problems for millennia but they are always short on solutions. I saw this opinion on Instagram this morning from Albert Camus “The modern mind is in complete disarray. Knowledge has stretched itself to the point where neither the world nor our intelligence can find any foot-hold. It is a fact that we are suffering from nihilism.”

    Your five points are clearly stated and a good starting point to work out what needs to be done. There is one question that applies to them all – why have we allowed this to happen. We certainly have not learned anything from the past and the previous discussion about education is relevant. My recollection of history at school is that it was just one fact after another and there was no discussion of why events happened. Look at TV history – it is essentially turning history into a soap opera.

    I am not that concerned about people getting very rich because they have all done something and nobody forced us to buy their products, but I put the bankers and politicians in a different category. I think the issue is the banking system and the printing of money to bail out companies and especially banks. The problem is that anybody with savings would have lost everything if this hadn’t been done. Is it about to happen again? We have to ask where all the worthless printed money has gone. I think it has been converted into assets by the rich and now sits as government debt. Gates is buying farmland and I don’t think he has said why. I suspect it is to protect his wealth if there is a banking crash. Whilst there is concern about the superrich it is also true to say that there has been a significant reduction in poverty. Taking the wealth from the rich and handing it out would not have much impact.

    I think item 5 is important. Politicians are obsessed with controlling everything and they can only control what is within the borders of their country. The UK cannot survive with closed borders because we do not have the natural resources needed and probably could not grow enough food. This is where the problem starts because the politicians and elites think they can control what goes on in other countries, hence the wars and conflicts.

    What we need is free, competitive trade with no government interference plus freedom from the government to own assets without them being taxed. The wealth that we generate must be ours to pass through the generations. It is when the state controls trade that the problems start. This was true in Ancient Rome and it was also true of Venice. Venice had a free trade system and the wealth poured in. When the Doges got greedy and decided to limit who could trade and took a proportion of it, the city collapsed. This is what we have now but we call it capitalism, which is state controlled and regulated trade at which the EU excels.

    I am sure technology and increasing knowledge is working against us. It is too complex for people to understand and they follow their emotions. Take climate change. It always changes and there is nothing we can do about it but tell people that and it will register with them. However, tell people that we are causing the changes and it will destroy planet and panic sets in without any need to understand, and most are not capable of understanding. The computer in their hand now thinks for them and gives them an opinion on everything without them having to think, and the collective opinion is adopted as correct. As Hitler said “What good fortune for those in power that people do not think.” We have to control the politicians and it has never been done in human history.

  • Bad Brian

    David & all,

    I think someone is having a go at this site as it is becoming harder and harder to find on the internet as if it is being pushed out of site.

    Also the stories that appear are up to eight years old and I now have to hunt for the current up to date story.

    Perhaps someone out there with the relevant skills can look at this and let David know if anything is to be found.

    Great article today, great comments, it puts those who write articles in the Telegraph and the Guardian to shame that they get paid to generate rubbish that does not compare to most of david’s work and many of his commentators.

  • Stillreading

    Not sure what your problem is Brian. I’ve just Googled “Snouts in the Trough” on my Android phone and this site came up immediately, heading the list of sites with similar names or associations. What IS odd is that I looked at the site yesterday around mid-day and as expected it was still showing the weekend post. I looked again though, mid-evening, and the weekend blog was still showing as the most recent despite, as I now see, readers having responded as early as 3.30 p.m. It must therefore have been posted before then. I put such anomalies down to my ancient laptop, still staggering on at 8 years old, as well as a rural WIFI network to which hundreds of new lines are being added every year as new housing estates are developed, without the benefit of any sort of supply up-grade. Excellent blog however to start the week. No point commenting as the blog says it all!

  • Ed P

    The Sound of Music has appeared in the life cycle graph, “We’re at 15, going on 16”.

  • A Thorpe

    An item has just been published on the Global Research site with the title “The Collapse of America: What History Teaches Us About the Rise and Fall of Empires” which is a book written by Prof. Alfred McCoy. This is a link to the article.

    There is an audio attachment which I haven’t listened to yet but the conclusion seems to be that the US Empire (which I assume includes Europe) is about to collapse and China will rise to be the dominant power.

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